25th Aug. 1792.
AT the date of my last few lines it was impossible, Sir, for me to write more fully. The streets, near the house I was in, were a field of battle; the house itself was an hospital where the wounded were brought, and, moreover, was every moment threatened with invasion and pillage. In the midst of all this I had to go, at the risk of my life, to take care of my sister, half a league from my dwelling. I left it, a few days since, to come to the country, where it is a real pleasure to resume my correspondence with you.
Do not be surprised, Sir, at the similarity you detect between my ideas and those of Madame Guyon, or between hers and those of our friend B. Truth is only one, its language also is one, and all who walk in this way must say the same things, without seeing or knowing each other; although, at the same time, some may say greater things than others, according to the distance they have travelled. Take the Scriptures, for instance; we there find the same idea everywhere, the same doctrine, notwithstanding the difference of time and place in which the sacred writers lived. I can even say that, unworthy as I am, I have inserted in my works, germs, the unfolding of which was very partially known to me; the truth of which I nevertheless saw, and these germs I now continually find to be in close alliance to my dear Boehme, which fills me with joy: first, on account of the likeness, — secondly, because it brings me a delicious harvest, which I should, otherwise, never have had. Five or six years ago I received, very naturally, in my speculations, an opening in geometry and numbers, which filled me with ecstasy. Well! a year afterwards, I found this ray of light running through the Chinese traditions conveyed to us in the 'Lettres Edifiantes' of our missionaries. These were written four thousand years ago, and four thousand leagues away from me, and this fact, instead of humiliating me, only increases my ecstasy ten-fold; for, the first thing for us to know, is, that we can invent nothing — we receive everything. I agree with you that the works you speak of may serve as an introduction; but verbal introductions of persons who are themselves taught, seem to me still more profitable than books, unless, indeed, they be of the order of those of friend B., and I would rather hear even him than read him.
Madame Guyon is much in vogue in the house where I am. I have just heard a portion of her read; and it has made me feel how feeble and vague feminine inspiration is, compared to the masculine, such as that of J. B. I find, in the former, a groping in the dark; — morals, mysticism, instead of light; some happy interpretations, but many which are constrained; in short, more sentiment and affection than demonstration and proof; a measure which may be more profitable for the salvation of the author, but is less serviceable for the true instruction of the seeker. In the other, I find a solidity that cannot be shaken; a depth, an elevation, and a nourishment so full and so unfailing, that I confess I should think it time lost to seek elsewhere. So I have given up all other readings: I leave them, however, to the people of the house who relish them; I even conceal from them my favourite author, because they would not have strength enough to follow him, and it would be hard work for me to translate for them.
If the enumeration and classification of powers is a new undertaking for you, our friend B. will give you great assistance in it; and, if you have persevered in reading him, I doubt not you will have already made some steps forward since your last. The school through which I passed, also, gave us a good nomenclature in this matter. My works contain some extracts from it, and I believe the following may be taken as my idea of the two nomenclatures. That of Boehme is more substantial, and leads more directly to the essential end; ours is more in detail, and more brilliant, but I do not think it is so profitable, inasmuch as it is, so to speak, only the language of the country to be conquered, and the warriors' object ought not to be to learn their languages, but to subjugate the rebellious nations. In fine, Boehme's is more divine, ours more spiritual; Boehme's may and ought to do everything for us, if we identify ourselves with it; ours requires a practical working operation which makes its fruits more uncertain, perhaps less durable; that is, ours looks to the operations in which our master was so powerful, whilst B.'s looks altogether to the plenitude of the divine action, which ought to take the place of everything; it therefore subdues all the faculties of my being, for I never had much taste or talent for operations. M. de Hauterive, whose master was the same as mine, gave himself more to the operative part; and, although he had more fruit than some of us, I confess I never saw anything he did, in this way, to cause me to alter my mind. He has other merit in my eyes. Madame de Lacroix, also, is a very estimable person; she is believed, by many minds, to be possessed of efficient spiritual gifts. She tried them before me, but I never had any but negative proofs from her. Be this, Sir, as it may, the matter of free communications is not so rare a thing as not to be open to almost anything, when forced by these operations. The world is full of both these orders of facts, and I doubt not Madame Lacroix may have had them as well as others. But it would be silly and unwise in me to undertake to distinguish between facts which are unknown to me. Independently of the innumerable difficulties in the matter itself, the doings which really concern us are those only which are personal to ourselves; and I have, I believe, already told you, that, in these things, the light ought to accompany all our steps — and will, if, in humble attentive simplicity, we are faithful as we advance, and do not take too long strides. As to the belief in the existence of all these things, it rests on the belief in our spiritual nature, and the right and connections which this title of Spirit establishes in and around us. When we have once felt our own souls, we can have no doubt about these possibilities; and it was on account of the proofs of this divine character of our being, that the school through which I passed was so valuable, for it gave us the most convincing demonstrations of this truth. But, since you are free from this difficulty which stops so many, follow the movements of your faith; address your soul and your worship, as you do, to the fountain, to the great Principle Himself; He will not give you serpents when you ask Him for bread, and you can eat the nourishment He sends you in peace and confidence. All wonders, all facts will appear simple to you, because, to you, they will be only a consequence of the nature of our being, from which we have deviated, and which the Divine hand alone can restore, through the organ of the Repairer; depths on which I should be but a stammerer compared with our friend B., to whom I refer you. . . .
As for the word Selbheit, which Madame Guyon translates propriete (self-hood, own-hood), it means, in both languages, the obstacles we ourselves raise to our own progress; but Madame G. appears to me (perhaps because I am unworthy to understand her) to carry this to a strained degree. Friend Boehme makes it clear and simple to me, by showing me the chains which what he calls the spirit of the world fastens upon us. Here is the true death we have to undergo, the true self-hood we have to get rid of; but, when the Divine self-hood condescends to replace it, and be its substitute in us, we are permitted to cherish it with the greatest care; and it is on this point that I do not find Madame G. either clear or steady. The way of partial and spiritual operation is in near neighbourhood to the spirit of this world, especially to that astral region in which it dwells, and which is almost universally made use of in these operations, without excepting the master I had, and those who have followed in this operative way. Hence, it is very liable to nourish in us this self-hood, which we ought so much to strive against, by the sort of gain and pleasures it gives us. Indeed, I am persuaded this is the chief Selbheit against which we should watch, a sense I should never have reached, had not friend B. opened it to me.
Farewell, Sir; I commend myself to your prayers. If, as you say, you find a sweetness in our intercourse, I can assure you I find also a great deal for my part; and I trust it will go on increasing for both of us, thanks to the nourishment we both mean to take. I venture, even beforehand, to claim your goodwill for having introduced these readings to you.
7th Sept. 1792.
I SEE with much pleasure, Sir, by your letter of 25th ult., that the same day I was thinking of you, you were thinking of me.
The same causes which have given you trouble, have also prevented my reading much of our friend Boehme. The little I have read entirely confirms your judgment, and the comparison you make between his writings and Madame Guyon's. I find in him a steadiness, a precision, and a solidity which cannot be moved. You see I adopt your judgment, your whole judgment, and nothing but your judgment. This man, destitute of learning, and without study, would, without the light from above, be incomprehensible. . . . You have rightly conjectured the questions I thought of putting to you on the 'Tableau Naturel'; but as I am obliged to concentrate my faculties on one point only, the one only essential, the great mystery which St. Paul made known to the Colossians (chap. i. 26), I reserve my inquiries for another time. Meanwhile, I am truly obliged to you for your explanations on your two nomenclatures, and I foresee that I shall have many questions to ask you on comparing that of our friend with that of your school.
I believe in free communications, but what comes of such as are forced is repugnant to me; I mean such as are not a natural and spontaneous result of the state of our souls when they have attained to the higher degrees; and then, if we thirst for the fountain, we scarcely think of stopping in the pleasant paths which seem to lead to it, to say nothing of the dangers for our inner being which may accompany this sort of communications, dangers which you have very well described in 'Ecce Homo,' p. 24.
What an interesting work might be composed, giving it a historical form, that it might be read eagerly by all men of desire — the life of a lover of truth, whom we might make to pass through the labyrinth of all the modern errors arising from false freemasonry and unbelief, before introducing him to a respectable chosen one who should lead him in the right way. We would put into the mouth of this elect one the quintessence of your works and those of our friend B., which are, actually, as little known among the learned, and amongst people of the world, as though they had been written in the centre of Arabia four thousand years ago! The Baron Homeds, the Schroepfers, the Gregomas, the Gabrielis, the Sarpellis, the Cagliostros, as these jugglers are called, would serve as rubble for the false masonry; the Nicolais, Biesters, Gedikes, Voltaires, and Boulangers for the false ideas of religion and philosophy; and we would so lead our hero till he was devoured with hunger and thirst for the truth. Then our elect would show him the way of the centre without a turning and with all its advantages. By such means an essential work might be put into the hands of many who would not readily open a theosophical book. This, no doubt, is an idea susceptible of many modifications, according to the aim that may be had in view. . . .
When I am less ignorant than I am now, I shall beg you to show me your discovery on numbers. . . .
Your remark on Madame Guyon, as to her expression propriete, is of importance; she has not been careful to render this main idea clear enough for her readers, which will probably account for her being profitable to so few. In this sense, we can never have too much light. When I mentioned, in mine of 25th July, certain lights which did not seem essential to our work, I alluded to manifestations, physical proceedings, and communications which came under the outward senses; and I agree with you that Madame Guyon is neither decided nor clear enough as to the propriete we should cherish, and that which we should resist.
References to our friend B., and explanations on the spirit of the world and the astral region, I shall greatly prize. I know a French work which speaks a good deal about the astral spirit, without ever being able to find out where the author, who does not know German, got this astral spirit. It seems that there are many people, in nearly every country, who hold similar ideas.
You have a claim, Sir, not only to my good will, but to my gratitude, both which sentiments I feel for you most sincerely. I owe you more than I can say, and I cease not to pray our Great Benefactor to reward you.
Petit Bourg, 6th Sept. 1792.
You will probably expect a second letter from me, Sir, before you write; I therefore take up my pen again to answer yours of 25th August.
Nothing can be more correct than your chemical remark on the alteration of proportions; all nature, organised and unorganised, acts by this law. We cannot doubt that the same also rules in what is spiritual; we may make the experiment on ourselves, whether for the amelioration of our moral affections, or for the acquisition of light; in either of which orders we have to separate the things which are contrary, and bring nearer those which are favourable and analogous to our object, in order to strengthen such of our faculties as are entangled in obstacles and darkness. Friend B. will say so much to you on this point, when he speaks of your regeneration, and the incarnation of the Saviour, that I may safely leave it to him.
I have read the passage you quote from him, Letter XLVI., sec. 37, 38. When you read the 'Three Principles' you will meet with many more wonderful things on this subject; you will there see clearly what he calls wisdom or Sophia, and you will not agree with Pordage, wherein he says she is the precursor of Jesus Christ in the soul, seeing that they can only come both together, that in her he was clothed for his incorporation in the pure element, thence to descend into the region of mixed corruptible elements, the womb of Mary, that he might afterwards, through this death which we carry with us, raise up with himself the human soul purified and regenerated in his divine life. But you will agree with Pordage, when he represents this wisdom as not an angel, but an angelic Virtue higher than all spirits of men or angels. Thus I cannot consider it to be the spirit of the Repairer spoken of by Paul, Rom. viii. 9, for this spirit of the Repairer is God, like the Repairer himself; in short, It is the divine light which illumines all the wonders of the divine immensity, whilst wisdom is only its vapour or reflection; she allows passage through her of all these wonders, and is properly the preserver of all the forms of spirits, as the air is of all material forms; she dwells always with God, and when we possess her, or rather when she possesses us, God possesses us also, for they are inseparable in their union, though distinct in their character.
Let us turn to 'Ecce Homo.'
Page 54. "In this spirit" means in this sense, or intention.
Page 68. "The witness of the Spirit" here signifies the particular spirits, of angels or men, already entered into the region of the other life. Page 78, id.; page 79, id.
Page 65. "Zealous writers." I had in view Mr. Dutoit in his work on 'The Abuse and Origin of Reason in Religions and Superstitions': the title I may give incorrectly, but it will suffice to direct you. This work has astonished me in many places, but has not convinced me in all; far from it, — to say nothing of the harshness of its style. "The judges," p. 129, will be the divine justice itself, as proclaimed in the Gospel, at the last judgment; and as for the "judgments," we cannot doubt that they will be clear enough for us to hear them, when they are passed upon us, as our works themselves will take the place of our ears.
Pages 20, 61, 109, 110, 154. On inward travail and the means of our self-stripping and advancement. I might in vain write volumes to make these things more clear, for they can be made clear only in the activity of our desire, and the experience of our personal progress. I have said enough to you on this subject, in my foregoing letters, to make it unnecessary to revert to it; besides, friend B. will give you such excellent hints thereon, that I may trust it to him.
Page 56. "Spiritual denudation," or stripping, is the lively sentiment of our divine privation here below, combined, 1st, with a sincere desire to return to our country; 2ndly, with the inward reflections, which the divine sun sometimes favours us by sending, in the depths of our souls; 3rdly, with the pain we experience when, after feeling some of these consolatory reflections, we again fall into darkness, there to continue our expiation. Thus, I do not pretend to say that we can give ourselves this wholesome affection, but we can ask for it by our conduct and our desires, and God is ever waiting to pour it into our souls.
Page 110. You ask, "May not man have the sentiment of his defects without being able to deliver himself from them?" Certainly, if he do not continually ask for help; but the same band which sent him this feeling of want, can easily, also, if he ask, send him the remedy.
Your 7th question about M. de Hauterive obliges me to say, that there is an exaggeration in what you have heard of him. He does not put off his corporeal envelope, any more than others who, like him, have enjoyed, more or less, the same favours, put off theirs. The soul leaves the body only at death; but, during life, the faculties may extend beyond it, and communicate with their exterior correspondents without ceasing to be united to their centre, as our bodily eyes and all our organs correspond with surrounding objects, without ceasing to be connected with their animal principle, the focus of all our physical operations. It is not, however, the less true, that if this experience of M. de Hauterive is of the secondary order, it is only figurative of the great work which occupies us; and if it is of the higher order, it is the great work itself. Now this is a question which I shall not solve, especially as it would be of no profit to you. I think I shall be doing you a better service in directing your attention to principles, rather than in stopping at details of the doings of others.
As for 'Le Nouvel Homme,' I beg you will excuse me the task of pointing out the additions or alterations I might have made in it after reading Boehme. You will do this easily for yourself, as you advance in our dear B., who is not to be thoroughly known in so short a time, or with a cursory reading. It would be beyond my power to do it. I have sat long enough at my desk; I must not again bury myself in that sort of work, and, henceforward, I should wish to write only from my substance; I, therefore, at present, give rest to my pen, in the way of work for publication. Moreover, the work in question is rather an exhortation, a sermon, than a work of instruction, although something of this may be got from it here and there. I wrote it at the request of one who wished something from me in the way of exhortation. I did it in haste; it has been printed from the first draft, and I am glad to have it off my hands. It ought to be ready, but the affairs of my country have stopped everything of this sort; and I know not when you will see it.
Farewell, Sir; I congratulate you that you live where there is political quiet. Although it is far otherwise with me, I submit, and try to praise God for all He sends, whether pleasant or the contrary. I pray for grace to use everything that happens to me as may be most right and profitable for my advancement.
Amboise, 28th Sept. 1792.
A DIFFERENT address again, Sir. Since my letter of the beginning of this month, in which I replied to yours of 25th August, I have been called, by my father, to this my native country; I know not how long I may remain in it. I am in a complete destitution; but friend Boehme, and our Holy Scriptures, are my consolation and support.
My father's age will hardly permit my leaving him again. Our political doings do not invite an early return to the capital. Thus, Sir, please address your letters henceforward to Amboise, Departement Indre-et-Loire, being careful to add fils to my name, lest your letters should go to my father. It is a favour of Providence that I have known Boehme before coming to this exile; without it, I could have expected nothing but spiritual ruin for myself, in a little place like this, where minds are a thousand miles away from the matter which engages us.
You do right to dwell upon the mystery given to the Colossians, i. 26. That is the "one thing needful." In regard to your idea of a work to make the sight of truth more easy to the eyes of the world, I think well of it, and it is well conceived. But I am not in a favourable position to undertake it; and if I employed what little power I still may have, of this nature, I should employ it in something else; either in something new, the germs of which may be found in notes I have collected, daily, ever since I learned to think, or in translating some of Boehme's works which are unknown to my nation. But, on this head, I do not disquiet myself; I wait, on the one hand, to see more distinctly the course of things, before I apply myself to my own productions, and, on the other, I wait till I have read B. all through, that I may be more familiar with his doctrine. . . . The discovery I mentioned to you, on numbers, would require preliminary verbal explanations; letters would hardly suffice for the purpose. Of this you may judge by the elements on which the discovery rests. They are: first, our particular doctrine on the final causes of the existence of things; secondly, this same doctrine demonstrated by the science of numbers; thirdly, a knowledge of, at least, the first principles of elementary geometry; 4thly, a more full and profound acquaintance with spiritual geometry. These are the ingredients of the opening I have had. You know that Pythagoras sacrificed one hundred oxen for his discovery of the hypotenuse; I assure you, Sir, he would have sacrificed more than a thousand if he had drawn from this hypotenuse all that it has given to me. But we will leave this to some future time; mountains do not go to meet each other; but men are not mountains, and perhaps, some day, the star of peace and justice will rise on my country and on my life. Then — I will not say what I will do; but my heart knows it, and you may repose upon it.
I do not know the French work you mention, about the astral spirit, unless it be that of M. Dutoit to which I alluded in my last letter from Petit Bourg. I know, in fact, that in nearly every country there are many people occupied with these ideas. There certainly is a spiritual fermentation which must lead to an explosion; but what it will be I know not. I need not refer you to pages of friend B. for this astral spirit; you will meet with it all along. But take the second Index, at the end of the 10th vol. (of the edit. 1682); look for Ghost, Stars, Seal, &c.; and they will each direct you to a passage of the author which will satisfy your desire.
You are right, Sir, in having formed a good opinion of my late hostess (Duchess of Bourbon). None can surpass her in the virtues of piety and the desire of all that is good; she is truly a pattern, especially for one in her rank. Nevertheless, I thought our friend Boehme too strong a nourishment for her mind, especially on account of the inclination she had towards wonders of a lower order, somnambulists, [Trance-mediums of modern nomenclature. — Tr.] and prophets of the day. So I left her where she was, after having done what I thought my duty in warning her, and 'Ecce Homo' had her partly in view, with some others who were of the same proclivities.
Farewell, Sir; I thank you for your prayers to the great Recompenser in my behalf, which I sincerely reciprocate.
I have not yet asked you to whom I am indebted for the favour of your correspondence. I should like well to know something of how it happened that we have thus been drawn together.
Tuesday, 16th October, 1792.
YOUR two letters of 6th and 27th September arrived in due course, and were received with all the pleasure your letters always give me. I should have before replied to the former, if I had not been drowned in a deluge of business brought upon us by your nation, altogether, as I hope, from a misunderstanding. . . . We want neutrality, and nothing but neutrality. But all Switzerland rises, to the last man, to defend itself if attacked. . . . . Forgive this explosion on politics; my mind was full of it, and required relief.
In your first letter you give me a hope for the future which is well calculated to lighten my cares. At the present time no Frenchman, of any party, or of no party at all, would find our country agreeable. But, if it please God, these political, clouds will disperse and allow us to give ourselves up to the sweets of study and the charms of friendship. The moment, which you give me a hope for, when I shall have the happiness to see you, would be one of the happiest of my life.
I thank you for your explanations on 'Ecce Homo.' I know M. Dutoit's work; I formed the same judgment of it as yourself. What you say also of M. de Hauterive is equally in accordance with my own ideas. That separation of the soul from the body, doubtless, is not real; we may easily, in a dream, see our own body without motion. You say, if M. de Hauterive's facts are of the superior order, they are the great work itself. This, beyond doubt, is a great truth; it is the the ----- of the ancients; and such a fact, well authenticated, is like a principle. Tell me, if you may, without indiscretion, whether you know, for a certainty, of any one having arrived at that high degree. At the same time, no doubt, principles are more profitable for me than the doings of others.
I have a particular request to make to you, the granting of which may even help you with our friend Boehme: it is, that you will run a parallel between the nomenclature of your school and the terminology of Boehme. What is the meaning, for instance, which you attach to the word "lance composed of four metals"? ('Des Erreurs et de la Verite, p. 35.) What is B.'s term corresponding with this lance? And in what passage, in Boehme, is there a correspondence with what you say in 'Des Erreurs et de la Verite,' p. 28? "Man was lost in going from 4 to 9, and he can never recover himself but by going from 9 to 4. This is a dreadful law, I know, but it is nothing compared with the law of the number fifty-six, a frightful law, frightful for those who expose themselves to it, for they cannot arrive at 64, till they have undergone it in all its rigour."
You ask me what led to our correspondence: it was the sentiments of benevolence throughout your works, to which it is impossible to remain a stranger, when one has chords in one's own soul pitched to the same key, which drew me to you. Your name was no mystery to me, for you enjoy a well-merited reputation amongst true thinkers in all Germany. Your work 'Des Erreurs et de la Verite' is not only known and appreciated, but it has also been commented upon by an anonymous savant, in company with the 'Tableau Naturel.' . . . . If you like I will send it you. Moreover, I have, at the court of Munich, a friend who tells me he has read the 'Tableau Naturel' more than twenty times, &c.
Within these few days Providence has led me to the discovery, in the middle of my native city, of an old ecclesiastic who leads an obscure and retired life, who, unknown to all the world, has been busy reading our friend Boehme these forty-three years. It is through him I have just obtained 'The Three Principles' and the 'Aurora,' and he will try to procure for me the remaining few treatises I still want.
I also have daily to notice the great goodness and care with which Providence leads me in both my private and my public life. I have just had such marked proofs of it that I could not refrain from telling you so, for the glory of our great Benefactor, before whom I prostrate myself in my nothingness.
Amboise, 6 Nov. 1792.
IF my nation were as peaceful as myself, Sir, it would leave yours in repose; besides, I have only to read friend B., chap. xii. No. 40, of 'The Threefold Life,' to prevent my loving war. But I hope, with you, that matters will be arranged. I congratulate you heartily on the discovery you have made. Tell me, I beg of you, in your next, if your good ecclesiastic knows French as well as you, and, especially, if he speaks it, as no doubt you do; for it is difficult to write it like you without having well rubbed it in speaking. You may judge how this incident revives my ideas and projects which I have barely hinted to you; but, independently of the difficulties your country may, for the present, oppose to a Frenchman, I have at this moment others of a melancholy nature. My father has, within these few days, had a violent attack of paralysis, which, though it may not immediately threaten his life, leaves us at least no hope of his recovery, at his advanced age. My life is consequently now to be devoted to my filial duties, and those cares which my father's state necessarily requires. In the midst of my sad occupations I shall reply to all the items of your letter as well as I can.
I have had the honour to tell you that I did not doubt that there have been, and still are, some privileged men who have had, and still have, perceptions of the great work. I do not doubt that my first teacher, and several of his disciples, enjoyed some of these favours. But to assert this will not help you much. Yet how are we to make such facts evident to a third person, and authenticate them to him? The story which we might relate might excite his curiosity for a while, without convincing him. I return therefore to principles, which I prefer, advising you to dive into them till you are surprised, not that such facts are sometimes, but rather that they are not universal, such being the rights and elements of our nature. There are, however, innumerable degrees in the distribution of these favours; those I have known enjoyed them only partially, as the fruit of their own labours. The elect of another order enjoy by the gratuitous voluntary action of that Wisdom which is above; you must be sensible of the difference. In short, Sir, if you want full details on these subjects, open our Holy Scriptures; they are nothing but a collection of the works of the Spirit on the elect; and these works or communications will there be seen in all shades and colours, without fear of the alloys which are so commonly found with the elect of a lower order. Observe what was recommended to Boehme at the time of his election: it was that he should carefully read the Scriptures.
The parallel you ask for between his nomenclature and ours would be too long to write; I shall restrict myself to the example you quote. The "lance, composed of four metals," is nothing else than the great name of God composed of four letters. The extract of this name constitutes the essence of man; it is thus we are made in the image and likeness of God, and this quaternion which we have in us, and which distinguishes us so clearly from all the creatures of nature, is the organ and imprint of that famous cross in which friend Boehme so magnificently describes to us the eternal divine generation, and the natural generation of everything that takes life, in this world or the next.
"Lost in going from 4 to 9," signifies in going from spirit to matter, which, in dissolution, according to numbers, gives 9. Boehme gives another signification to 9, when he considers it as the first after 10. Nor is he wrong, any more than we are; he presents this number in the divine order, and we in the elementary, and all these aspects are acceptable to our intelligence, knowing that each number is universal. This is a certain truth, but it requires a great calmness of conception to apprehend it, and would take volumes to elucidate.
As to the law 56, I have not, so far, found numerically, any trace of it in Boehme; and I confess it was a light given to me personally, under the instructions I received at Lyons twenty years ago. It depends on the knowledge of the properties and progressions of the number 8, which I do not think it would be profitable to you for me to speak of before you have made yourself familiar with our numerical language, and this can hardly be accomplished by letter. So we will leave this subject to a more favourable time, which I dare hope for in the future. But if Boehme does not speak of it numerically, he speaks of it very clearly in his doctrine. For of what does he not speak? And when he represents the wicked one, and those who are like him, plunged for ever, after this world, in the horrors of the fire of the first principle which is kindled by the criminals themselves, he shows me, in nature, the state of this number 56, in which the criminal will remain, whilst the just and purified will attain to 64, or unity.
I dare not accept the German book you are good enough to offer me, unless on the condition of paying for it. . . . My pecuniary means are ample, therefore do not spare me. I rejoice with you, Sir, on the favours you tell me you receive continually. May Providence still increase them for you, is my earnest prayer.
I beg you will ascertain from your ecclesiastic, whether he is full enough of Boehme's system on the generation of the souls of men to have no doubts about it. I see Boehme distinguishes well enough, between the animal soul and the divine soul, as to their nature; but I do not see that he distinguishes very clearly their generations. Now, we possess, on this subject, a certain grand foundation, which makes me rather careful; this is the only point on which I find it necessary to watch this divine writer; on all other points of his doctrine I am at his feet.
Farewell, Sir: let me partake in your prayers.
Morat, 26th Nov. 1792.
YOUR interesting letter of 6th has given me all the more pleasure, that I feared mine of 16th October was lost. You inquire whether my ecclesiastic, who has given up his calling long ago, in consequence of the enmity of his brethren, speaks French. He does not. In this capital, French is the language of the world and of society; German that of reading, business, and government. As for myself, I speak French habitually.
You are in trouble for your father; I am for my daughter, who is sometimes brought by her disorder to the brink of the grave. I have frequently been obliged to leave her for weeks together, to attend the meetings of our Grand Council in the capital; a sacrifice the more costly because all her confidence is in me.
I return to your letter, and thank you for the present of the "lance composed of four metals," and for your grand idea of the universality of each number. The thought that every number is universal had struck me, and I will give you the train of reflections which have occurred to my mind on the subject. It is not only probable, but even beyond doubt, that the Supreme Wisdom has disposed all things in measure, number, and weight. Wis. xi. 21.
It is not only possible, but, according to our poor reason, very likely, that everything constituting one class or genus, of greater or less extent, has, in itself, a sign, a common character, by which the Sovereign Wisdom has thought right to make them distinguishable to intelligent beings, as belonging to a common class. Again, say I, it is possible this sign, common to a whole class, may be a number. In this hypothesis, each number may perhaps designate a general idea; that is, an idea including all those of the same class. This hypothesis has an imposing title in its favour, the successive testimony of the good and learned of every age for at least two thousand four hundred years. But it is yet for me only an hypothesis, till I have stronger proofs than mere tradition. We must try a key ourselves, before we can be sure that it will open all the doors.
To know whether the ancients possessed such a key, I open the 'Golden Verses' of Pythagoras; I find there, that he swears by the sacred quaternion. I open his commentator, Hierocles, and find that Pythagoras, having learned in Egypt the name of names, called it Tetractys, the quaternion, which signified, Fountain of nature, ever flowing. What more was needed to put me on the way? With the aid of a little silence and meditation, I find that the number 4 might well be applied to everything coming from this source; I apply my hypothesis, and find the Redeemer, who appeared on the earth after four times a thousand years. Four evangelists, and, what no one seems before to have remarked, 22 epistles of the Apostles, including the Apocalypse, two and two is four. Prophets, 22 books in the Old Testament. I apply my hypothesis to the most ingenious of inventions, I find 22 letters in our alphabet, and the ten numerals reduce themselves to 1, 2, 3, 4.
I have not read sufficiently of Boehme. I am ignorant of his nomenclature of numbers. The old ecclesiastic has not spoken to me of numbers, either. In answer to your question, he has given me a hypothesis too long to speak of at present. Through his assistance I am now in possession of a complete copy of our friend B.; and from Germany I have received an interesting commentary, in 4to., on this author.
Farewell, Sir: believe in my friendship and my thankfulness as you believe in yourself. Do not write me till you hear from me again, as your letter might miss me.
Morat, 14th Dec. 1792.
JUST returned from a journey, and near my daughter's chamber, who is very ill, I continue my letter of 28th ult., which I was obliged to leave off suddenly.
Be kind enough to tell me, in your first letter, if I am mistaken in my calculation of 28th Nov. The connection of all truths, the astonishing extent of some, the possibility of an universal arithmetic, more charming than that spoken of by Leibnitz; a Novum Organum for the discovery of truth, better than Chancellor Bacon's: all these, as I view them, seem to me to have something of a real foundation in the science of natural numbers. But I confess that, eager for the fountain-head, my heart cares chiefly for the way that leads to it, and would willingly disregard all the rest. A reference to the different passages in B., which you have found bearing most on this subject, would give me a lively pleasure.
On my last journey but one to Berne, the old ecclesiastic, whom I will call our Abbe, for short, spoke to me of his theory of the origin of the divine and animal soul of man. He was minute, to the last degree, on the subject; but I will report to you only the leading features that I can remember. I hope, some day, you will speak with him yourself; he understands French a little, although he cannot explain himself in it. I will interpret for you. His view is that, before the origin of the world, there were three hierarchies: the first, that of Michael, formed after the properties of the Father, full of desires, full of fire, devoured with hunger for God, seeking continually to approach Him more and more.
The second, that of Lucifer, formed after the properties of the Son. The characteristic of this hierarchy was an imperious inclination to penetrate into the depths of all the mysteries of Divinity, an unquenchable thirst for light and knowledge.
The third, that of Uriel, after the properties of the Holy Spirit. Its character is an insatiable desire to enjoy God, to delight in Him. Lucifer fell because be wanted to know experimentally, empirically, what fire and darkness was. All his hierarchy did not wholly fall with him, but all were expelled; and out of the part which were the least guilty and least degraded, the divine breath was formed which animated our first father. The incarnation state was to serve for trial for this order of beings; and if Adam, by obedience, had stood the trial, he would have ascended to all the splendour which Lucifer had before. After the fall of Lucifer, a new universe was created, and, from this universe, Adam received his animate soul; he lost, by his fall, the divine light, and got the astral spirit or reason, for guide, instead.
It is not for me, in any way, to give my opinion on this hypothesis; my attention and desires, moreover, being turned in another direction, towards a mystery of more importance, that which St. Paul committed to the Colossians. Of all things, the most essential, the most sublime, and perhaps most rare, is true Christianity; and the way to it, in my terminology, is the great work. The writings of our friend Boehme, for which I shall for ever be indebted to you, contain sublime things on this matter. The Holy Scriptures, the source from which B. drew his treasure, and your writings, besides the principles of your school, which lean towards the work of physical communications, contain truths of the greatest importance to my favourite subject. Besides all these riches, there is nothing else to be desired but a helping hand to show us the order in which we ought to use and enjoy these materials, and, above all, to direct us to the order of the integral parts which constitute the great work, so that we may not fall into a vicious circle, in forming our ideas of these operations. If you will kindly write to me on this, as you and I understand each other, one page will suffice.
I hope you have received the little German book I sent you, via Lyons. Please tell me what you think of the author's intelligence; tell me also the edition and the page of the 'Lettres Edifiantes' which confirmed your discovery on the hypothenuse. That square of the hypothenuse once gave me a satisfaction of the same nature, though not of the same species. When will the happy time come when we shall work arithmetic together?
Let me always have the benefit of your remembrance before the Divine throne, and be ever assured of my attachment.
P. S. I have just suffered a great shock: I have lost my daughter. I was perhaps too much attached to her, and God has taken her from me. She suffered for years with angelic patience and sweetness.
Amboise, 1st Jan. 1793.
I HAVE received your two letters, Sir, the latter of which has afflicted me for the affliction that has befallen you. The same grief awaits me from day to day; there is no hope of my father's recovery; and he has resisted death so long already only by the strong constitution with which nature endowed him; in which I am entirely unlike him; for my bodily frame, though healthy, is as weakly as, on the contrary, his was favoured by our common mother.
One of my most ardent desires is, certainly, to go to your land, and also to the banks of the Rhine, where I have some very dear connections; but I cannot decide upon any of these projects so long as I am tied as I am, whether by the sacred duties which keep me here, or by the impediments which our Government puts in the way of our travelling. Let us hope that Providence will dispose all in His wisdom, and let us commit all into His hand.
What you say about numbers contains much that is true, particularly that which relates to the universal quaternion; but it also contains something conventional, and, in this order of things, there ought not to be. Now, your analogy of the four Evangelists, of the twenty-two epistles of the Apostles, of the twenty-two letters, &c. — this is conventional. The number of Evanvelists recognised might be larger than it is, without the number 4 thereby losing anything. You know there have been about fifty; you know that some epistles are in question as to their authenticity; you know that the number of Hebrew letters has varied, etc. But what is a true basis, is, the Redeemer's appearing at the epoch of the fourth millennial. Above all, the reduction of 1, 2, 3, 4, to the denary — things which whole volumes would not suffice to develop entirely.
What you ask, in regard to the 'Lettres Ediflantes,' is in the 26th volume, 12mo., p. 146, Paris edition, 1783. I cannot exactly refer to passages, in our friend B., on numbers; look, however, in 'The Threefold Life,' iii., 17, 18, on the ternary, and the six and seven forms in nature; the fourth chapter on the same subject; the sixth chapter, v. 65, on the quaternion, or the cross; chapter xvi. 49, on the number 9 and number 10; chapter x. 31, 32, on the two senaries and the number 12; chapter xi. 94, on the Turks, who attain the number 1000 (a thing which has greatly surprised me, and which I do not yet sufficiently understand to know whether I ought to believe it or reject it), &c. In your own reading, you may select many other similar passages, for he speaks of everything in each of his works, though more or less in full.
As for the way, you are seeking, for the attainment of what is really the Great Work, read the twelfth of the 'Forty Questions,' v. 12 to 22 inclusive. You will there see to whom you must apply, and judge whether it is possible to show more clearly the end we aim at, the way that leads to it, and the treasures which await us, if we have courage to renew ourselves sufficiently to reach it.
What your Abbe tells you about souls is a literal extract of the author's doctrine in 'The Three Thrones'; but I have nowhere yet seen in this author, that it was "from the remaining and less guilty" of the fallen hierarchy that the divine breath was formed which animated our first father.
I copy your words, and they seem to me so far from the spirit of the author, and from true principle, that I presume you may not have caught what the Abbe said exactly, which you can verify when you have the opportunity. For the rest, all you tell me, from him, is no answer to my consultation. I asked only whether Boehme gave any convincing proofs of his statement as to the successive generation of human souls, which he derives and engenders one from another, as is the case in the physical order; for my question applied to souls spiritual, not animal. I said that this author distinguished clearly between these two kinds of souls, as to their nature; but I feared he confounded them as to the law of their generation. This is a point I have not yet been able to unravel in the doctrine of our beloved author, the subject being so deep. I looked for help therein from your Abbe, who has been studying him so long.
You do not say whether you have received 'Le Nouvel Homme.' Do not be afraid of saying what you think about it; you know what I think of it myself: moreover, it is always good to lower the conceit of authors.
Berne, 23rd Jan. 1793.
BUT for a pressure of engagements of all sorts, I should not have delayed so long, Sir, the acknowledgment of your interesting letter of 1st inst., which I received on the 11th, during the meetings of our Grand Council. I was on two committees, one of high importance; they took up nearly all my time, monopolized nearly all my powers. My recent loss has been felt more sensibly here even than at Morat: my daughter's soul was very closely joined to mine. What, at first, gave me strength to bear the shock, was, reading some passages of B. Since my return to Berne, I have not had the same resource to help me to contend against the painful images of my mind; and if ever in my life I had wished for a certain kind of physical communications, I certainly should have done so now, after this sad loss; the more so, because our friend B. believed it possible, though difficult: see a remarkable passage in the 'Forty Questions,' Q. xxvi. v. 13. The wish to know whether her spirit still responded to the feelings of my heart, the desire to satisfy myself as to her present state, &c., would certainly have prevailed; but I repose in God's will, which is without bounds; and I have tried, in this matter, as in all others, to sink my own will in His.
The essential part of my perception of natural numbers is the basis, namely, the thought that Providence may have given a number as a characteristic sign of all manifestations, all effects, all results from a common cause, which number would be at the head of this sort of ideas, so that, on seeing it placed there, not by himself, but by Providence, an attentive man would recognise the idea as belonging to the class. A word of correction from you thereon would be very acceptable to me. I coincide with your remarks as to what was conventional in some of my examples. My thought was, that the early Church retained four Gospels: did not Providence direct this choice in so important a matter? &c. I have only one more question to ask on this subject, viz., whether you allow my method of reckoning; that is, whether you allow 22 to be equal to 4? which, in our arithmetic, would serve to make reductions, perhaps discoveries. According to this calculation, 13, as also 22, 31, 40, 112, 121, 202, 211, 301, 400, 1003, 1111, 1102, 1300, 4000, would all make 4.
Thank you for your information about the 'Lettres Edifiantes': the complete collection is very scarce here; and I have not yet been able to meet with vol. xxvi. As for friend B.'s number, as he uses a key of his own, I must suspend my inquiries on this subject. We must attend, in this life, always to what is most urgent; and my life, at present, is split into pieces, in the position I am in.
I thank you, also, heartily, for pointing out sections 12 to 22 of the xii. of the 'Forty Questions.' The importance of these few verses demands a profound study. I purpose writing, for my own use, my thoughts on this matter, which I will submit to your judgment and correction. Meanwhile, I will give you a first outline of my hypothesis; and I trust you will kindly tell me where it deviates from the truth, and whether it may, with some corrections, compare with friend B., who is still so little known to me, whose ideas I have never been able to grasp comprehensively; I know him only by fragments.
I figure to myself, that there is in our souls, in the most secret place of our understanding, a sanctuary, a mirror, which alone receives the rays of heavenly light which lightens every man that comes into the world. This heavenly light, this sun, shines always without interruption; it is the word, logos, which, in its time, incarnated itself for the purpose of making itself more manifest to us poor mortals. In the mirror which receives its rays, we see everything, even external objects, which are transmitted to us by our senses. It is not that we need the senses in order to see external objects in this mirror, experience proves the contrary; but in our ordinary waking state, the senses — weakened or destroyed — prevent external impressions from reaching the mirror. As long as we see external things in this glass only, and regulate the preservation of our temporal life and our body by this view, all goes well, and the mirror remains pure; but, when our will lays hold of those images in the mirror, desires them, — wants to unite itself with them — and considers them its sovereign good, or is frightened by them, — then our imagination fixes them, corporifies them, so to speak, because it is of the same temper as the mirror. This corporification covers the glass with clouds, just as if an impure breath had passed over it; and, although the sun still shines upon it, the mirror, being obscured and spotted, can only reflect the gross things of sense. It is only by looking away from these images, and fixing our attention on such parts of the mirror as are not tarnished, and ardently desiring to get to the word which shines there, that the traces of the impure breath gradually disappear; and by our strong will, our desire for unity, the rays of the sun become fixed, just as images of external sensible objects are fixed by our desire. Then, these rays, having become substantial, unite with and nourish our souls, and gradually enlighten them, not by this mirror only, but immediately, directly, and in all fulness.
My hypothesis, on which your remarks will be very acceptable, has a distant likeness to the system of Malebranche, in his 'Recherche de la Verite" and his 'Meditations Chretiennes.' The passages in St. Paul, 1 Cor, xiii. 12; 2 Cor. iii. 18, seem to confirm my ideas on these subjects. In Exodus xxxiii. 20, the Lord says to Moses, "There shall no man see me and live." "When we fear God, and desire him only, ardently, we are no more alive to the world; and if the glass in our hearts is pure, we may hope for that blessedness." Matt. v. 8. Farewell. &c.
Amboise, 13th Feb. 1793.
I HAVE not been in a hurry to write to you, Sir, believing I should shortly hear from you again, to thank me for a present I sent you in the person of Count Divonne. This young man is more advanced than I am in inward Divine favours, for he is more worthy than I, and deserves better treatment. I will not give you his history, he will have done it himself. I am impatient to know if you have met: meanwhile, I reply to your letter of 23rd January.
I sympathise with you in your mournful bereavement. Providence has likewise afflicted me in taking from me a most kind and respected father. I lost him last month; since when, I am overhead in business, and I know not when I shall be out of it; I will not trouble you with all my embarrassments. If I were free, my inclination would soon take me to Berne, as Divonne can tell you; but our home difficulties about certificates and passports are in the way. Moreover, I know not whether we Frenchmen, who have not emigrated, can expect to be well received abroad, after what has passed at home. Remember what you said to me two or three months ago; and please to tell me frankly what you would advise me to do, or not to do, under the circumstances.
Providence cannot have attached numbers to creatures for signs. It has given properties to each, and these properties are manifested by numbers, which, as you see, are their fruit; their internal and natural language, instead of only their seal; otherwise, numbers would be something external and dead. It is possible Providence presided at the selection of the 4 evangelists, as it is unquestionable it presides over all things; but I do not think it was directly; and I still make no account of this analogy. Your reduction of the numbers 22, 31, &c., is right in principle; but we must be careful not to confound the results, for their elements are different. Thus, I well enough see that 4 rules in the series you give me, but I see it rule everywhere with a different character; this is a point it is indispensable we should attend to, if we would not change the nature of things. All things are like, nothing equal; this is a fundamental axiom. Your ideas of the soul's mirror seem to me very sound; they will be still more so when they have been wire-drawn in the process of regeneration. Read the first part of the 'Incarnation,' xiii. 1, and you will see from whence we ought to derive our instructions. Indeed, ever since I have read our delightful Boehme, I look upon all that I have written as mere child's-play in wisdom, although I am fifty; and I purpose, in future, to walk more circumspectly. . . . Talking of books, if you will look into Arnold's 'Ecclesiastical History,' vol. ii., part iii., chap. xxvi. 556, 558, 559, you will find what will surprise you, relating to events that have just taken place with us, particularly the overthrow of our royal dynasty. Joachim Greulich foresaw it in 1653, and it has been in print nearly a century. You who are fond of such instances of communications will be pleased with this which is so striking.
Farewell, Sir: may Providence grant me the means of going to you; I shall consider it a great mark of His goodness. My compliments to Count Divonne.
Letter of Kirchberger of — February, missing.